As coaches and trainers we want to make a difference. But we are often missing the key ingredients to create and sustain behavioral change. These are the 5 essential coaching tools that we believe are required on every engagement.


We know that organizations invest a ton of money in leadership development and coaching. In our last post, we addressed some of the pitfalls that lead to failed coaching and leadership development engagements. Our research and experience shows that the following 5 leadership development tools must be in place to create behavioral change in your coaching and leadership development programs. Of course you can layer on more techniques, depending on your background and expertise, but these are the critical few that must be implemented to coach leaders to success.


Coaching Tool #1: Create a Focused (Online) Action Plan


I am a climber. I’m passionate about getting into the mountains and on the rock. One of the lessons I’ve learned that has kept me safe is being prepared and always having a plan. Having a plan prior to climbing allows my climbing partners and I to remain both focused during the climb and responsive to changing conditions in the mountains.


The same applies to coaching. Imagine trying to make a change without a plan!


The first leadership coaching tool, as basic as it sounds, is that every coachee should have an action plan. AND, it needs to be online. We’ve found that when action plans are paper based they simply don’t get done or don’t get completed to the extent that they should. Online action plans create transparency between the coach and coachee and between the coachee and their manager. With that transparency comes more accountability to support change.


Coaching Tool #2: Uncover Limiting Beliefs


Have you ever led a coaching or leadership development program and behavior didn’t change?


In our experience, it’s because coachees didn’t uncover the deeper cause of their current behavior.


Here’s what we’ve found with high performing leaders.


They want results.


When they don’t get the results they want, they change their actions.


This two-step process is a reactive loop that only taps into a small part of a leader’s capacity.

Action Result

So, as coaches and trainers, we have to help our coachees uncover the limiting assumptions, beliefs and stories that are driving their current behaviors. Then, with a shift in mindset, our coachees can drive a new set of behaviors that lead to different results.

Mindset, Action, Result

Here’s an example. I was recently talking with a friend who told me that he grew up as the fat boy in the schoolyard. He was the kid who was always picked last for the kick-ball games. His response, in turn, was to be the one picking the team so that he wouldn’t be picked last.


The bottom line is that he learned to find safety by being the one in control. As an executive, you can imagine how this belief set has impacted his leadership style. He finds safety in controlling information and micro-managing others. As a result, he pushes people away in relationships and comes across as arrogant and autocratic.


Bottom line – as part of the leadership development process, we have to help leaders uncover the mindsets, assumptions and beliefs that are driving their behaviors if we want to create sustained change.


Coaching Tool #3: Surround the Coachee with Supporters


Ask most world class athletes why they’re successful and they’ll often point to the team who surrounds them – whether it’s their coaches, team members or support staff.


We need to do the same thing in leadership development.

Stakeholder Centered Coaching

The third leadership development tool we have to build into our coaching programs are what we call Supporters. A Supporter’s role is to support the leader throughout their entire leadership development or coaching engagement. They are people who are (1) in a position to observe the leader. In fact they are often impacted by the leader’s behaviors. (2) They are willing to provide ongoing feedback and feedforward to the leader throughout the leadership development process.


Coaching Tool #4: Engage in Ongoing Measurement


The next critical factor in creating behavioral change is ongoing measurement – we call this pulse feedback.


In most leadership development and coaching programs, there’s 360 feedback at the beginning. In some programs there’s a “time two” 360 at the end. The intent is good, but it’s missing the mark. It’s unfocused measurement and often times unrelated to the coachees action plan.

Client Value

Instead, we advocate for 360 feedback at the beginning of a coaching program, a focused action plan and then ongoing pulse feedback surveys based on the action plan where Supporters provide feedback on a regular basis. Use Coachmetrix to track feedback from Supporters throughout your coaching engagements to help measure the progress of a client’s improvement overtime.


Coaching Tool #5: Follow-up


The final tool needed to accelerate behavioral change in leadership development and coaching is follow-up.


What do we mean by follow-up?


Follow-up is a process in which the coachee meets with her supporters on a monthly basis and says:


I’ve been working on_____.
How have I been doing? (feedback)
What is your feedforward – ideas for the future?
Thank you.


Follow-up not only helps a leader understand what to do next to sustain behavioral change, it helps the leader overcome a much bigger challenge, which is changing the perceptions that others have of them.

How to Apply These Tools in Your Leadership Development and Coaching Programs


These 5 coaching tools have to be in place to help accelerate behavioral change.

  1. Create a clear and focused (online) action plan.
  2. Uncover limiting beliefs and make a mindset shift.
  3. Surround the coachee with supporters.
  4. Engage in ongoing measurement.
  5. Follow-up regularly.


When these tools are in place, we are ready for measurement.


When these tools aren’t in place, there’s no sense in measuring!


What’s your take? What are the critical conditions you see needed to accelerate behavioral change in leadership development? Start tracking your action plans online, measure pulse feedback from supporters, and more with Coachmetrix online coaching app. Start your first project free!

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